Because this election is different. The election won’t be decided in November 2024. It’s being decided now.
If you’re an investor, you need to prepare accordingly.
There are two events unfolding in front of our eyes. Democrats have attacked Trump with unprecedented lawfare, and the House of Representatives has started formal proceedings to impeach Joe Biden.
Trump is getting all the attention. But the Biden story is even bigger, and the legacy media are ignoring it almost entirely. My concern is that investors are going to get blindsided by this because of lack of media attention.
The recent ousting of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plays into this. There are rumors that McCarthy promised conservative representatives impeachment would go forward, while telling moderates that it wouldn’t go forward.
He was trying to appease both sides, in other words. If the new speaker is firmly committed to impeachment, that would likely accelerate the move to impeach.
The Trump indictments are already handed up. There are two federal cases, two state cases and 91 felony charges in total. The trial dates have been announced for March and May of 2024, but the pretrial motions are in full swing.
On top of that, there’s an effort at the state level to remove Trump from any ballot under the so-called “insurrection clause” or Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That’s a good way to start a revolution.
If that happens in any state, that case will quickly go to the Supreme Court whether the court likes it or not. Meanwhile, Trump’s poll ratings go up and the Republican contest looks like a one-horse race with the rest just for show.
That said, Trump is highly likely to be convicted of something because the jurisdictions were carefully selected by Democrat prosecutors to be 90% Democrat and majority Black so the jury pools will be out to convict Trump.
Here’s the bottom line: Trump could be in an orange jumpsuit behind bars in November 2024 and still be elected president. There’s no constitutional prohibition against that.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden faces a pincer attack from Republicans and Democrats. The Republican danger comes in the form of impeachment hearings that have recently commenced. The impeachment hearings will take a month or two, and then the impeachment vote will happen probably in December before the Christmas recess.
From there the matter goes to the Senate for a trial, which may not commence until after the State of the Union address in January 2024 and may last a month. Put differently, the entire Washington establishment will be paralyzed from October 2023 to February 2024.
From the other direction, the Democrats can’t wait to get rid of Biden. They’re preparing to tell him he has to step down or at least announce he’s not running. This will clear the way for Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, Jay Pritzker or one of the other pretenders.
Forget Kamala Harris; she’s a dunce and everyone knows it. But Democrat insiders might let her be president for a few months after Biden resigns as long as she agrees not to run herself. The sole purpose of that is so she can pardon Biden and his family before Trump wins. This will play out like a shortened version of Gerald Ford’s tenure and his pardon of Nixon.
But the clock is ticking for this convoluted plan. The paperwork for the New Hampshire primary will have to be filed by December and the other primary deadlines follow closely after that.
Here’s the irony: The Republican impeachment effort will actually help the Democrat effort to dump Biden by giving them an excuse. In fact, an early resignation by Biden may even truncate the impeachment effort.
You see the point. The next president of the U.S. may be determined in the next 90 days because of the legal, criminal, impeachment and other efforts already underway.
As always, there are wild cards to consider. Below, I address the two most important that are unfolding right now. Read on.
Election Wild Cards
By Jim Rickards
The first wild card is the use of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits insurrectionists from holding federal office. The 14th Amendment was enacted in 1868 shortly after the end of the Civil War. The provision is not a dead letter, but it has almost never been used since the end of Reconstruction in 1876.
Section 3 was used from 1868–1876 to prevent senior Confederate officials from running for federal office. Even at that, Congress enacted the Amnesty Act of 1872, which removed the prohibition on office for all but a handful of the top Confederates. That amnesty was broadened further in 1898 as a gesture of unity during the Spanish-American War. In short, Section 3 of the amendment served its purpose, was watered down by amnesty legislation and has never been applied successfully since 1876.
Of course, that history won’t stop Democrats from trying to use it today. They have branded Trump an “insurrectionist” despite the absence of legal judgment, due process or any reasonable interpretation of the word.
They’re pressuring secretaries of state (the top election officials) in blue states to unilaterally disqualify Trump from running and to remove him from the ballot. This effort is currently being pushed in Arizona, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania and some other key swing states.
Certain prominent legal scholars say this effort is legal and appropriate. Many more scholars say the provision doesn’t apply and, if it does, it’s not being pursued in the manner that Congress prescribed.
Trump has numerous defenses. The strongest is that Trump has never been determined to have engaged in insurrection by any prosecutor or court. (By the way, this is why Nancy Pelosi kept blabbing the word “insurrection” after Jan. 6; she wanted to brand Trump for this purpose.)
Jan. 6 was not even an insurrection; it was a riot and there was property damage and trespassing but nothing close to a true insurrection. I expect Trump will prevail if efforts are made to keep him off the ballot in particular states. But that won’t stop some Democrat secretary of state from using it in one state or another. This would then be litigated to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s just one more uncertainty for investors to navigate in the months to come.
The other wild card in the election deck is the shabby treatment by the Democrats of declared candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) and the likelihood that we’ll see one or more serious third-party candidates emerging who could materially damage Joe Biden’s (or another Democrat’s) chances of winning in November 2024. Again, these developments won’t wait for the summer of 2024. They’re happening today.
RFK Jr. is a lifelong Democrat; his uncle was President John F. Kennedy, and his father was Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was a presidential candidate. Both were assassinated, the president in 1963, and the candidate in 1968, when RFK Jr. was in his early teens. Whatever one thinks of RFK Jr.’s policy views, it’s impossible to dispute the fact that he and the Kennedy family have a legacy as loyal Democrats that goes back generations and is hard to beat.
RFK Jr. announced on Monday that he’s running for president as an independent. That removes some of the internal pressure that Biden faces from his own party. The real question is whether his candidacy as an independent would favor Biden or Trump. There are arguments for each side.
Democratic strategists are concerned that Kennedy will peel off many voters from their selected candidate, whoever that might be. But Trump is considered to be the maverick or “outside” candidate. Trump’s team fears that voters who are sick of both party establishments, who might normally vote for Trump even if they don’t care for him personally, might vote for Kennedy instead.
In recent weeks, two polls have found Kennedy at 14% when included as a third option besides Biden or Trump. That’s just one percentage point short of the 15% polling threshold set in previous elections by the Commission on Presidential Debates to determine if independent candidates can qualify for debates.
Ross Perot was the last independent candidate to qualify back in the 1992 election, and he had a substantial influence on the election. So that’s a major wild card.
RFK, Jr. is not the only one looking at third-party challenges. The maverick Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia has said he may run for president on the No Labels party line. Cornel West, a former faculty member at Princeton and Harvard now with Columbia University’s Union Theological Seminary who has announced that he’s a candidate for the presidential nomination. West was going to run on the Green Party ticket, but he announced last week that he’s also running as an independent.
Whatever you think of their policies, these candidates are all highly intelligent, politically savvy and good on the campaign trail. Kennedy and Manchin are actual Democrats and West is a socialist who appeals to many Democrats. They could easily get 5% or more each in the general election, perhaps much more.
This would favor Trump since Kennedy, Manchin and West would divide Democratic votes, while Republican voters would have one main option. The combination is enough to sink Joe Biden’s chances and probably other Democrats’ as well. This would help to elect Donald Trump even if Trump happens to be behind bars on Election Day.
Ultimately, the 2024 presidential election may come down to a late substitute for an impeached president on the Democrat side, and a convicted felon behind bars on the Republican side. These dysfunctions will come against a background of a severe recession, continuing banking crisis, confrontation with the Chinese, a losing war in Ukraine and possibly a new war in the Middle East.
Investors should give consideration to reduced equity exposure; increased allocations to cash; and at least some allocation to hard assets including gold, silver, fine art and land. Those assets will see you through the turmoil, and cash will enable you to go shopping for bargains when the election dust finally settles.